Gilbert schools will offer online distance education classes for the first time this month in a new partnership with Tempe-based Educational Options.
The current distance education program offered by the Gilbert Unified School District allows 800 students to self-teach.
This month, the program will expand to an online, interactive, book-free and teacherled program for high school students who opt to take the one-credit allowed annually, and junior high students who need to make up a failing grade.
The easier access should allow the program to double in a year, said director David Reed.
"This is a teacher-driven cyber school formula," Reed said. "One of the biggest changes is the transportation element."
Tuition for the classes is about $140 a semester. Students will be able to download electronic books and assignments, but the district won’t have to purchase costly texts, Reed said.
Core classes and electives will be open to students statewide and nationally, and more courses will be offered if the program is successful, Reed said. Math is not yet offered because online courses do not offer Gilbert’s integrated curriculum, he said.
Superintendent Brad Barrett said the move allows the district to follow the footsteps of school districts nationwide that now offer online courses on demand.
At least 750 students will take courses this school year, according to the $53,000 agreement.
For more information, visit www.gilbert.k12.az.us or call (480) 497-3300.